Location, location, location – why choosing the right venue is vital for your conference

Posted by Jo Kelly

A company conference can be the focal point of your year, with everything winding up to that point. Whether you’re creating an opportunity to talk to peers and colleagues or using it as a vehicle to reach your customers, it’s an ideal forum for direct communication and therefore a valuable activation.

Your conference is all about making a positive impression on your delegates and choosing the right venue can really help to make an impact and be the first step on your way to a successful event.

How to select your venue

There will always be a series of requirements when it comes to selecting the perfect venue, and this is likely to change from year to year. Get the basics in place to eliminate the venues that just won’t do.

  • Attendance
    Know your numbers – the number of attendees you anticipate will affect the square footage you require.
  • Travel
    How are your delegates are likely to be travelling? If your company is an international corporation with staff flying in from disparate locations, a nearby airport is a must. If the majority will be driving, plentiful car parking will be required.
  • Accommodation
    If your conference is planned to span two or more days, overnight accommodation becomes a consideration. A venue with accommodation on-site is a practical option, or one located near a town that allows delegates to find nearby hotels and break out in the evening to enjoy local amenities and socialise. You might decide to book a restaurant off-site for the evening, so that people have the opportunity to enjoy the destination rather than just the venue.

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  • Hospitality and entertainment
    If socialising and dining are to take place at your venue, you’ll need to ensure that your standards can be met. Request menus in advance and be sure that any dietary requirements or allergies can be managed. Ask if entertainment is available or whether you would need to be book something independently. Establish staffing arrangements, including how many will be allocated to your event and exactly what they do (versus what you need to manage yourself).
  • Equipment
    On-site IT facilities are a significant priority and efficient Wi-Fi needs to be easily available to visitors at all times. Audio/visual equipment should be compatible with your IT requirements and easy to use. It’s worth asking if on-site IT support is available to help troubleshoot technical hitches and avoid delays and embarrassment: a knowledgeable technician with immediate availability can make all the difference!
  • Budgets
    Every business wants to keep their accounts team happy, so sticking to your budget is a must in the early planning stages! This might mean you have to ditch a potential conference venue you’d set your heart on to be realistic if the cost is out of your range. Pay close attention to what’s included in the price and what is considered an added extra. Sometimes a great deal is actually a case of hidden fees. Check out key costs like the catering options in advance and ensure that these are budget friendly.
  • Staying on brand at all times
    Consider what your choice of venue says about your company. To keep your corporate messaging top of mind, when researching venues choose one that is closely aligned. For example, if your business is all about heritage and tradition, then an ultra-modern, newly-built conference centre is not the best fit. Think about the expectations that your customers or peers are likely to have. Choosing somewhere with an impressive entrance or prestigious history could make exactly the impact you’re after, without breaking the bank.

And once all of the practicalities are in place, to ensure your conference goes off without a hitch, it’s worth considering whether your venue has the atmosphere and ambience you want to make it go with a swing!

We’d love to help you engage, motivate and inspire your team with our innovative conference event services. To speak to a member of our award-winning team:

Jo has worked at CR Worldwide as Events Operations Director since 2004. She is responsible for scoping and delivering all types of events, for clients of all sizes, globally. She manages the division’s team who organise and execute award-winning events – ranging from one-off sales floor days, corporate hospitality events and incentive travel trips, to annual conferences and partner summits.